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Conversations with Gabriela C-L

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gabriela C-L.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I found my yoga practice at 17 during some difficult times in my life.

It would take me about 4 years to be able to fully commit to 6 days a week yoga practice at the age of 21. Now 23 years old, I have 2 years of consistent practice. A year into that, I also began to explore other forms of movement like handstands and contortion in addition to my Ashtanga practice.

It was through yoga that I was able to connect to my inner self. Yoga was not the cure to my shortcomings but it helped me find the motivation to develop the tools that I needed to overcome many obstacles in my life and lead me to a path of healing.

Through that, I discovered my gender identity as non-binary and I have developed a huge connection to the body positive movement as someone who, like so many, has struggled with body image for a good portion of their life. Yoga encouraged me to practice non-attachment which in turn encourages self-acceptance.

However, I do admit – that I do not consider myself to be anyone particularly special. I am a college student with 2 years left of finishing a BSD in Visual Communication Design at ASU who happens to be passionate about the message of yoga and who enjoys sharing their progress with handstands/contortion.

That being said, I still consider myself to be a typical yoga practitioner because the yoga practice always keeps me humble. That’s why I made my account @gabithepeach on Instagram.

I hope to be that relatable nonbinary, queer yogi that someone sees on their feed. It can be hard to find queer, POC in the yoga world, and I hope to change that. I am someone who does not have a perfect body or perfect skin. I have struggled with acne since I turned 18 and I never edit it out of my photos because I am against perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards. I also love sharing sustainable brands that don’t encourage fast fashion since I am a huge supporter of environmental sustainability.

Yoga is special to me because I feel like, even if you do not practice Ashtanga, it is a practice that can benefit anyone. Yoga has saved my life in so many ways and it has given me the confidence to explore other forms of movement with my body that I never thought was possible. Yoga has helped me accept my imperfections by reminding me that the present moment is the only moment we truly have.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I fell out of my yoga practice multiple times! It was not a smooth road at all. Being too young and immature was most likely my first obstacle and then life threw its own obstacles that I had to overcome.

What helped me stick to my Ashtanga practice was letting go of perfection and simply telling myself: no matter what time it is, I will make sure to fit my practice (6x a week). It was a crazy time, especially because I recommitted to the practice through the pandemic as well.

The latest I have ever practiced is 3 am in the morning. Sounds a bit extreme but that was how hard it was to overcome my aversion to commitment and routine. Now, I sleep around 9-10 pm and I practice 6x a week from 6-7 am in the morning. Sometimes earlier. So it’s possible, believe me!

I know that maintaining a commitment to a yoga practice is hard work but it pays off with devotion, so long as it is coming from a place of growth.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am a student at ASU for graphic design and I am an avid Ashtanga yoga practitioner with an active practice in handstands and contortion. I do graphic work for companies like Omstars and Yoga Democracy but I knew for my yoga practice that I share on my Instagram account: @gabithepeach.

I’m proud that I have made so much progress with my yoga practice and handstand/contortion practice. I love that I can share my practice with the world. I hope that what sets me apart is that I try to present myself as genuinely as I can on my profile. A person who is queer and non-binary with imperfect skin who supports body positivity. It is my hope that my voice is one that can inspire others to have a yoga practice or any kind of spiritual or movement practice.

Because my account is still new and growing, so I am still navigating how my account reaches others but in the meantime, I hope to inspire others with my practice and honest words. I will always be a lifelong student and I hope to continue to grow and learn about myself and yoga for as long as I can.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
For those trying to commit to an Ashtanga practice: don’t try to be perfect about practicing. Just practice whenever you can. Eventually, you can slowly implement a routine to be able to fit the practice at the same time every day, but first, just practice whenever you can.

For anyone who wants to have a yoga practice, just know that yoga is not about handstands and intense backbends. These are things that I have started to explore because I find them fascinating and I enjoy them but that does not mean that if you can’t do those movements, that you are a “bad” yogi or that you have a “bad” practice.

The best practice is one that works and is sustainable for your well-being.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nia Jayy and Nicole Curtin

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